iPad Is CD-ROM All Over Again

Apple's tablet is a throwback to the days of top-down content control
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2010 11:02 AM CDT
iPad Is CD-ROM All Over Again
In this Jan. 27, 2010 file photo, the Apple iPad is examined after its unveiling at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, file)

The iPad may seem like the next big thing, but “it feels like the second coming of the CD-ROM” to Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing. Content makers thought they could repackage their product in a more expensive form and remake media. But incumbents make bad revolutionaries, Doctorow argues. The iPad is designed to reinstate top-down media control. DRM is everywhere, you can’t load your own software—let alone write it—and you surely can’t override a command from “the mothership.”

Getting your kids a computer used to encourage them to remake, reprogram, and improve the world—hell, the old Apple II+ came with schematics . Get your kid an iPad and you’re saying “that even changing the batteries is something you have to leave to the professionals.” Bottom line: “Gadgets come and gadgets go. … The real issue isn’t the capabilities of the piece of plastic you unwrap today, but the technical and social infrastructure that accompanies it.” (Read more Cory Doctorow stories.)

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